A Climate Stalemate

I suppose this story qualifies as news, in the technical sense:

A legally binding accord to combat climate change “is not on the cards” at a December summit, because developing countries such as China, Brazil and India won’t commit to it, according to U.S. negotiator Todd Stern.

What follows sounds more like fantasy:

With developing countries unlikely to commit to reducing greenhouse gases by set targets, the U.S. will push for non- binding agreements to slow global warming, which will eventually result in a comprehensive and binding deal, Stern, President Barack Obama’s Special Envoy on Climate Change, told reporters in Johannesburg today.

Haven’t we been on the “eventually” track for some time? (For more details of Stern’s press briefing and actual quotes, see this Reuters dispatch.)

And for those following the previous thread on climate journalism, just curious: is China, Brazil and India’s intransigence a failure of communication, too? Oh, and on the inconvenient facts front, there’s these latest “dirty” developments. Whose fault?

3 Responses to “A Climate Stalemate”

  1. harrywr2 says:

    It’s a simple problem.
    Given the choice between no energy or fossil energy the developing world will take fossil energy.
    Given the choice between fossil energy and nuclear energy the developing world will take nuclear energy because it is more economical to do so.
    Globally, electricity consumption is increasing at the rate of 2.9% per year, about 600 TWh/year.
    A 1GW nuclear plant produces about 8 Twh per year.
    1GW of solar panels or windmills only produce about 2 TWh/year.
    In 2010 there were 13 construction starts on nuclear plants which when completed will produce 104 TWh/year.
    16GW of solar panels were sold in 2010 which results in 32 TWh/year.
    38 GW of windmills were sold in 2010 which results in 76 TWh/year.
    That leaves us 388 TWh/year short of demand growth, something has to fill the void.
    Nobody(except the Europeans) is going to agree ‘hard targets’ until it is clear they can make those targets.
    The nuclear industry doubling every 5 years is realistic but not a certainty. Even with that it’ll be 2020 before we have the global industrial capacity to meet new demand with non-fossil energy, never mind starting to replace existing capacity.

  2. Jarmo says:

    I guess the bad news is that China and India possess 20% of the global coal reserves and with a combined population of 2.5 billion energy-hungry people (over half a billion people without electricity) they will burn all of it in 30-50 years.

    The good news is that they will have to turn to some other energy source after that. Of course they could buy it all but that’s like putting your head in the noose and offering the rope to those countries with fossil fuel reserves.

    The US, Russia and Australia possess 50% of the world coal reserves and 40% of the proven gas reserves.

  3. David44 says:

    China and India (as well as Russia) are not only building conventional reactors but have well-funded programs to develop thorium cycle reactors with India pursuing solid fuel thorium reactors and China having recently announced a program to develop a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor or LFTR.  A LFTR prototype was successfully operated for nearly 5 years before the program was cancelled for political reasons.  Probably 5 to 10 years of intensive developmental engineering is needed to bring this nearly inexhaustible source of safe, clean, anti-proliferative, low waste source energy to market.  Although LFTR is on the list of 3rd and 4th generation reactors the DOE supposed to choose from for future nukes, it remains in a low priority, low funding purgatory.  Meanwhile, Secretary Chu throws more resources at wind and solar, technologies which will never be more than supplemental.  China’s stated intent for it’s LFTR program is to secure the intellectual property rights and license it world-wide.

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